California fires ravage through drought-hit state

  • 19/09/2015
Tents at evacuation centre for residents affected by the Valley Fire (Reuters)
Tents at evacuation centre for residents affected by the Valley Fire (Reuters)

Firefighters in California have finally begun containing some of the worst wildfires ravaging the drought-hit state, which have already killed at least five people.

A total of 13,000 firefighters were deployed to tame the eight active fires across California that have displaced about 15,000 people.

By Friday, they had managed to contain about 60 percent of the so-called Butte Fire, which ripped through Amador and Calaveras counties in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The fire has so far burned through 28,600 hectares, destroying 365 homes.

Firefighters also made progress in fighting the Rough Fire as it progressed dangerously close to a forest of the state's famed Sequoia trees - a major tourist attraction.

Now 68 per cent contained, the fire has burned through more than 56,600 hectares.

Progress against the fires is a little slower in the northern part of the state, where firefighters are still struggling to contain the Valley Fire in Napa, Lake and Sonoma counties.

It has spread across 30,000 hectares and is just 40 percent contained. Evacuations are still in effect for the blaze, which has destroyed an estimated 590 homes.

CalFire warned of "warmer and drier weather through the weekend" in the northern part of the state that could further spread the flames, giving firefighters more headaches.

AFP